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Missoula Personal Injury Blog

Limousine in deadly accident had a history of safety issues

Montana residents will have likely heard about a limousine accident in New York that claimed 20 lives on the afternoon of Oct. 6. Questions were raised in the aftermath of the crash about the safety of stretch limousines, and accident investigators have learned that the Ford Excursion SUV involved was cited for a raft of brake violations in March. According to official records, the New York State Department of Transportation found no evidence that issues such as constricted brake connections had been repaired when the SUV was inspected again in September.

An attorney representing the limousine company involved conceded that the vehicle had failed a safety inspection, but he claimed that the failure was due to a number of minor faults such as a faulty windshield wiper and missing window latch. The attorney also claims that all of these problems had been addressed prior to the deadly accident. Officials dispute these statements and say that the limousine had been ordered out of service for serious safety violations.

Accurate dementia diagnosis vital for appropriate treatment

The symptoms that determine which type of dementia a person has can resemble each other and make misdiagnosis possible. Families in Montana with a loved one presenting symptoms of possible dementia could learn about the different types and strive to communicate symptoms to physicians as clearly as possible. An accurate diagnosis could lead to treatment that prolongs a person's quality of life.

Lewy body dementia represents one form of the disease that benefits from an early diagnosis. During the initial stages of the disease, patients might gain greater benefits from dementia medications than patients with Alzheimer's disease. People who actually have Lewy body dementia but get misdiagnosed with something else run the risk of taking medications meant for Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease that could produce dangerous side effects.

Avoiding the dangers of hydroplaning

When heavy rains fall in Montana, drivers run the risk of hydroplaning. This occurs when the tires of a car encounter more water beneath them than they can handle, creating a thin layer of water between the tires and the street. The tires will therefore be floating above the road. The loss of traction can cause the car to slide or skid uncontrollably, crashing if the driver reacts in the wrong way.

The first 10 minutes of rainfall can actually be the most dangerous period for hydroplaning. That's because the initial rain will mix with oil residues on the road without having the chance to wash them all away. Still, drivers should be cautious around all wet roads at all times. Driving slowly and avoiding large puddles usually helps drivers avoid hydroplaning.

Rural roundabouts may reduce traffic accident risks

It's not unusual for some rural intersections in Montana to be governed solely by a stop sign. While this can be an effective way to manage traffic flow in some areas, it may not be the best option in locations where there's a higher risk of vehicle collisions. In one such area following a fatal accident in North Carolina, vegetation was cleared to make the stop sign more visible, and signs were posted announcing that a stop sign was ahead. However, there were two more serious accidents at the same interaction. The next step taken was to install a rural roundabout, which proved to be a more effective solution.

A roundabout is a setup where traffic is directed around an island in one direction in an almost continuous flow. This type of arrangement doesn't necessarily decrease the number of motor vehicle accidents. However, there is a reduced risk of serious injuries and fatalities. With traffic lights, accident frequency may be reduced, but collisions that do occur are more likely to be serious. What a roundabout does is eliminate the need for drivers to guess if they have enough time to get through an intersection. A driver simply glances to their left to see if anyone else is in the roundabout.

Injured in a car accident? Insurance may not be on your side

Automobile accidents happen every day on Montana roadways. If you were injured in a car accident and are suffering physically, financially and emotionally as a result, you may wonder if compensation is available to you. The truth is, it might be.

Following a car crash, the responsible party's insurance provider -- if he or she has one -- should contact you with a settlement agreement. They do this fairly quickly, usually to get you to accept the meager amount they are willing to offer you during your time of need. It may seem like a lot in the moment, but really it may not be enough for your needs in the long run.

Doctor burnout may lead to medical errors

Doctor burnout is a widespread issue that affects medical professionals in Montana and across the U.S. According to a national survey published by Mayo Clinic Proceedings, more than half of doctors practicing in America are burned out, and thus more likely to make mistakes. The survey asked almost 6,700 hospital and clinic doctors about issues like fatigue, depression, suicidal thoughts, medical errors, workplace safety and symptoms of burnout.

It also found that more than 10 percent of doctors said they'd committed one or more significant medical errors in the previous three month period. Researchers concluded that doctors who were suffering from burnout were at double the risk to make a medical mistake. According to the study's lead author, an instructor in pediatric critical care at the School of Medicine at Stanford University, burnout is a work-related syndrome evidenced by cynicism or emotional exhaustion. Doctors often experience reduced effectiveness in practice as a result of burnout.

Many hospitals fail to protect mothers in childbirth

Expecting mothers in Montana have every right to get excellent care when they go into the hospital to give birth. However, women across the United States are facing an ongoing increase in maternal death and injury in childbirth. This is in striking contradiction to the global trend in other developed countries. While the maternal mortality and injury rate has dropped significantly in most developed countries, it has continued to rise in the United States. Each year, around 50,000 mothers are injured during childbirth while another 700 lose their lives.

One report found that roughly half of America's maternity deaths and injuries could have been prevented if the mothers had received swift, appropriate care. The study found that the most common complications experienced during childbirth were high blood pressure and extreme blood loss. Of the deaths caused by hypertension, 60 percent could have been prevented with earlier medical action. Of those caused by hemorrhaging, 90 percent could have been avoided with proper treatment when the problem started. In order to reduce the risk of maternal mortality, doctors should administer medication earlier in the process and measure blood loss during delivery.

New technologies improve breast cancer detection

In Montana and around the world, 25 percent of all cases of cancer are attributed to breast cancer, which is the most common type of the disease among women. Due to the prevalence of breast cancer, significant scientific research has been dedicated to improving early detection of the disease. By discovering and treating breast cancer early on, survival rates can be substantially improved. The ongoing research has shown results as current survival rates have improved and are now high in comparison to other types of cancer.

However, while early detection has played a major role in improving breast cancer survival and ensuring positive outcomes, some tumors are more difficult to detect. When breast cancer is not detected early in its development, it can progress and become more difficult to treat. One research project has developed a new mechanism to discover more complex cancers by using a computer-assisted system to assess breast lesions. The new technology is expected to save lives by reducing the likelihood of misdiagnoses.

New studies reveal no single cure for distracted driving

Public safety officials have not definitively linked an increase in distracted driving to the increase in fatal car accidents, but most drivers in Montana probably think that it would make sense to. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 37,150 people died on America's roads in 2017, which is more than a 10 percent jump from only three years prior. In the meantime, more new technology, especially automated technology, is being introduced.

Several new studies have analyzed the effect of technology on drivers' attention. Researchers at the University of Utah, for example, compared in-car infotainment systems with interfaces like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which run off smartphones.

July 4 sees highest number of fatal car crashes, says IIHS

Montana drivers know that holidays bring with them a greater risk for accidents on the road. They may be wondering which is the deadliest holiday for such accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has analyzed fatal car crash data from 2010 and 2014 and found that Independence Day, followed by New Year's Day, is the most dangerous.

During that five-year period, there were a total 592 deaths on July 4, creating an average of 118.4 deaths per year. New Year's came to an average of 118.2 deaths per year. One major factor in these deaths was alcohol; 47 percent of deaths on July 4th and 62 percent on New Year's were attributed to a driver, pedestrian or bicyclist with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher.


Towe & Fitzpatrick, PLLC
619 SW Higgins, Ste. O
P.O. Box 1745
Missoula, MT 59806

Phone: 406-203-5148
Phone: 406-829-1669
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